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West=On=Track - News

True Picture of Western Underspend is Indefensible

Press Release from the West=on=Track Community Campaign


West on Track has slammed shocking new statistics which highlight the way in which the BMW region, and the West in particular, has been short-changed in the implementation of the National Development Plan.

The evaluation by independent international consultants, INDECON, into spending in the West of Ireland and the BMW region makes dismal reading. The confidential mid-term evaluation, which has gone to the government, shows that in some areas less than half of the money provided was actually spent.

In the year 2002 only 48.7% of the forecast road funding was actually spent in the BMW region. In the South and East region the spend was 146% of the forecast

Figures for public transport investment paint an even worse picture.

Investment under this heading, which was mainly on railways, shows that for the years 2000-2002, spending in the BMW region was 51% of what was forecast in the National Development Plan, whilst in the South and East Region it was 174% of forecast.This represents a shortfall of euro364m in the BMW region.

This means that at the same time as the largest piece of rail infrastructure in this region, the Western Rail Corridor, lies dormant, a sum vastly in excess of what would re-open it in its entirety remains unspent at the behest of faceless planners in Dublin. Worse still, the Indecon report clearly indicates that the funds earmarked for this region under the NDP, which would re-vitalize more than 20 towns and cities in the West, are deliberately being spent in other areas of the country.

A spokesman for West on Track described the figures as "outrageous but not surprising". This imbalance had already been clearly identified by the Western Development commission earlier this year and the Indecon report merely underlines the extent to which the West in particular is being systematically ignored by central planning at the highest level in this country.

As the Department of Transport is the implementing body for the delivery of the public transport infra-structural funding, serious questions need to be asked as to why the BMW region is being systematically left behind, while expenditure in the other regions is running wildly ahead of target. If the present trend continues for the duration of the programme, the BMW region will end up getting a mere fraction of the euro518m originally promised.

Equally, within the BMW figures themselves, we need to see a county by county breakdown of where the money is being spent, but the Government is refusing to allow such a breakdown to be issued. For example, the Department needs to explain what proportion of the euro117m being spent on the new Inter-city rolling stock is applicable to the BMW region. Moreover, we need to be told what proportion of the euro43m spent on the railcar maintenance depot in Drogheda to service the Dublin fleet, has actually been taken out of the euro154m spent in the BMW. People in the West are increasingly suspicious that most of the BMW funds are in fact, being spent on the East coast, as in the case of projects like the euro250m Drogheda by-pass opened this Summer.

We call on Ministers Séamus Brennan and Éamon Ó Cuív to intervene at this stage in order to ensure that the balance due to this region is delivered in full and, as an indication of their good faith, to publicly commit to the re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor, a project which, uniquely, has the support of the people from Sligo to Limerick. Anything less will be viewed by the people of the West as yet another slap in the face from central government.








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